Today, a federal court in South Carolina invalidated the Trump administration’s attempt to delay the effective date of the Clean Water Rule by two years. The Clean Water Rule helps protect drinking water sources for 117 million Americans, as well as thousands of wetlands. Today’s court decision means that the Clean Water Rule is once again law of the land in all 26 states where temporary injunctions from other litigation are not in effect. John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America, issued this statement:
“Today’s court decision marks a great victory for millions of Americans who cherish clean water - for swimming, fishing, wildlife, and drinking water.
From the Chesapeake Bay to Puget Sound, our great waters depend on the streams that feed them and the wetlands that filter out pollutants. Backed by more than a thousand scientific studies and overwhelming public support, the Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to thousands of wetlands and more than half the nation’s streams. These streams also help provide drinking water for 117 million Americans.
In a four-year period before the Clean Water Rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had to drop more than 1,500 investigations against polluters, according to one analysis by The New York Times.
When the Trump administration found that it could not dismantle the Clean Water Rule swiftly, U.S. EPA arbitrarily pushed back the effective date of the rule by two years. Ruling on a challenge brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of several other organizations, U.S. District Court Judge David C. Norton invalidated the administration’s delay.
With the court’s decision, the Clean Water Rule is once again the law of the land in the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Today’s decision means that, in more than half the country, developers can no longer pave over wetlands with impunity and oil companies can no longer dump into streams unheeded. Moreover, the drinking water sources of more than 81 million Americans is once again better protected from pollution.
For nearly a decade, Environment America built public support for the Clean Water Rule – educating one million people at their doorsteps, organizing support from 1,000 businesses, farmers, mayors, and local organizations, and issuing several research reports on the issue.
As we come to the last weeks of summer, millions of Americans can now go swimming, paddling or fishing knowing that our waters are now better protected from pollution. We only hope that protections are restored quickly elsewhere, so we can all enjoy clean water.”